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TALKING, TEXTING, WALKING OR DRIVING: COMBUSTIBLE ELEMENTS FOR TEENS


Posted on behalf of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Jan 05, 2010 in Car Accidents

You wouldn't have to do much more than look around to notice the impact cell phones have on the way we carry out our days. You could probably stand on the corner of any street in Waterbury, CT and see people talking or texting on their phones - both on the sidewalk and on the road.

This past summer, a New York teen suffered bruises and scrapes after walking into an open manhole while using her mobile phone. Meanwhile, a study published in the journal Pediatricshighlighted the risk to children between the ages of 10 and 11 who use phones while crossing the street.

Attention to traffic dropped 20 percent and the chances of being hit, or having a close call with a vehicle increased 43 percent.

While eye-opening, the study said nothing about those cell phone users passing through the crosswalk in their vehicles. Again, youth trumps here. While it is mostly understood that talking and texting in the car are dangerous, no matter the driver - it is also recognized that many of those distracted drivers are teens.

In a recent Pew Research study, 34 percent of 16 and 17-year-olds who use texting admitted to texting while driving. Of those between the ages of 12 and 17, 48 percent said they had ridden with a driver who was texting behind the wheel.

In 2008, distracted driving cost the lives of 5,870 and caused over half a million injuries. Numbers like this that have propelled distracted driving to the top of the "most dangerous" list, threatening to replace even drunk driving.

In fact, a growing number of people have called for similar penalties to be placed on distracted drivers, especially those who text.

For those who feel that they're safe as long as they're not texting, the numbers tell a different story. Not only is talking on your cell phone in the car a dangerous distraction - but using a hands-free device might not be any better.

As early as 2003, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) admitted that hands-free headsets did not get rid of the accident risk. The conversation itself, not simply the phone, was determined to be the main factor in driver distraction.

The study, initially suppressed, finally came to light this year.

So, if texting and talking on mobile phones are distracting to all drivers, why the disproportionate emphasis on teenage users?

The answer is simple. Teens are more accustomed to keeping their cell phones close at all times and more likely to use them in the car. Additionally, they are less experienced drivers and less likely to exercise appropriate caution.

The scene is changing though. While individual states, such as Connecticut, led the charge in texting and talking restrictions, the government is finally showing signs of life on the matter. Two Congressional bills seeking to limit cell phone use in the car are currently making the rounds in Washington.